California Policy Center

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The California Public Policy Center (formerly the California Public Policy Center) is a right-wing pressure group based in California. Founded in June 2010, it is a state affiliate of the $83 million right-wing State Policy Network (SPN), a web of state pressure groups that denote themselves as "think tanks" and drive a right-wing agenda in statehouses nationwide.[1] See SPN Members for more.

Although SPN's member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, the Center for Media and Democracy's in-depth investigation, "EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government," reveals that SPN and its member think tanks are major drivers of the right-wing, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-backed corporate agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders.[2]

In response to CMD's report, SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told national and statehouse reporters that SPN affiliates are "fiercely independent." Later the same week, however, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer caught Sharp in a contradiction. In her article, "Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?," the Pulitzer-nominated reporter revealed that, in a recent meeting behind closed doors with the heads of SPN affiliates around the country, Sharp "compared the organization’s model to that of the giant global chain IKEA." She reportedly said that SPN "would provide 'the raw materials,' along with the 'services' needed to assemble the products. Rather than acting like passive customers who buy finished products, she wanted each state group to show the enterprise and creativity needed to assemble the parts in their home states. 'Pick what you need,' she said, 'and customize it for what works best for you.'" Not only that, but Sharp "also acknowledged privately to the members that the organization's often anonymous donors frequently shape the agenda. 'The grants are driven by donor intent,' she told the gathered think-tank heads. She added that, often, 'the donors have a very specific idea of what they want to happen.'"[3]

A set of coordinated fundraising proposals obtained and released by The Guardian in early December 2013 confirm many of these SPN members' intent to change state laws and policies, referring to "advancing model legislation" and "candidate briefings." These activities "arguably cross the line into lobbying," The Guardian notes.[4]

News and Controversies

CPC Involved in Ghostwritten Report to Open Schools

In early July of 2020, the Orange County Board of Education saw national criticism for passing guidelines to reopen schools without masks or social distancing measures. In addition to advocating for in-person schooling, the proposal stated that there is no scientific evidence to support the use of face masks- a direct contradiction to the CDC. The Board justified its proposal, claiming the report had been drafted by a panel of experts. Shortly after however, some panel members asked to have their names removed from the report; they asserted they had never even been consulted about it. Instead, Dr. Ken Williams Jr., president of the Board of Education, and Will Swaim, president of the California Policy Center, wrote the proposal. Swaim claims that nearly 80% of the report was written before the 11-person panel ever met. Neither Williams Jr. nor Swaim were listed as authors on the report. While Swaim did not get paid for his work on the proposal, he stated his writing was consistent with his work for the California Policy Center.[5]

CPC Organizes Rally to Open Schools During Pandemic

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Cecilia Iglesias, Executive Director of Education and Community Relations at the California Policy Center, organized a rally to reopen schools that were previously closed due to the coronavirus. The rally was officially hosted by CPC's "Parent Union," a pro-charter school group founded by Iglesias. Around 75 people attended the rally, advocating for reopening schools and allowing parents to choose whether or not to have their children attend. Held outside the local teachers' union offices, the rally also made a point to protest teachers' unions. The Parent Union condemned teachers' unions who have not only advocated for online learning, but also "have largely spoken against charters."[6][7]

Recall of CPC's Cecilia Iglesias

After 2 years on the Santa Ana city council, Cecilia Iglesias was recalled. Iglesias, the Executive Director of Education and Community Relations at the CPC, began to face recall efforts after she "attacked" local unions.[8] The Santa Ana police union lead the recall effort.[9]

CPC Attacks Unions in Lawsuit

The California Policy Center alongside the Center for Individual Rights filed a lawsuit against members of the California Public Employment Relations Board. The lawsuit concerns a 2018 law that prohibits public employers from discouraging workers from joining unions. The law, signed by then Gov. Jerry Brown, was intended to allow public employees the decision to join unions without threat from their employers. The CPC, however, sees the law as unconstitutional: an infringement on free speech.[10]

Encouraging NAACP In-Fighting

In 2016, the NAACP Board of Directors called for a moratorium on the expansion of charter schools.[11] Three years later in 2019, three California branches challenged the national leaders, calling for the moratorium to be overturned. Heading this challenge was Christina Laster, Education Chair of the Southwest Riverside branch. Laster is also the President of the Inland Empire Parent Union, a pro-charter school group founded by the California Policy Center. A blog post on the CPC's website described Laster's dissent as the "CPC teaming up with NAACP."[12] Volunteers for the NAACP such as Rick Callender, Vice President for the California Hawaii NAACP suspect "[Laster] is being paid to try and manipulate the NAACP."[13]

Ties to the State Policy Network

CPC is an affiliate member of the State Policy Network. SPN is a web of right-wing “think tanks” and tax-exempt organizations in 50 states, Washington, D.C., Canada, and the United Kingdom. As of August 2020, SPN's membership totals 162. Today's SPN is the tip of the spear of far-right, nationally funded policy agenda in the states that undergirds extremists in the Republican Party. SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told the Wall Street Journal in 2017 that the revenue of the combined groups was some $80 million, but a 2019 analysis of SPN's main members IRS filings by the Center for Media and Democracy shows that the combined revenue is over $120 million.[14] Although SPN's member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, the Center for Media and Democracy's in-depth investigation, "EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government," reveals that SPN and its member think tanks are major drivers of the right-wing, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-backed corporate agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders.[15]

In response to CMD's report, SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told national and statehouse reporters that SPN affiliates are "fiercely independent." Later the same week, however, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer caught Sharp in a contradiction. In her article, "Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?," the Pulitzer-nominated reporter revealed that, in a recent meeting behind closed doors with the heads of SPN affiliates around the country, Sharp "compared the organization’s model to that of the giant global chain IKEA." She reportedly said that SPN "would provide 'the raw materials,' along with the 'services' needed to assemble the products. Rather than acting like passive customers who buy finished products, she wanted each state group to show the enterprise and creativity needed to assemble the parts in their home states. 'Pick what you need,' she said, 'and customize it for what works best for you.'" Not only that, but Sharp "also acknowledged privately to the members that the organization's often anonymous donors frequently shape the agenda. 'The grants are driven by donor intent,' she told the gathered think-tank heads. She added that, often, 'the donors have a very specific idea of what they want to happen.'"[16]

A set of coordinated fundraising proposals obtained and released by The Guardian in early December 2013 confirm many of these SPN members' intent to change state laws and policies, referring to "advancing model legislation" and "candidate briefings." These activities "arguably cross the line into lobbying," The Guardian notes.[17]

Funding

The California Policy Center is not required to disclose its funders. Its major foundation funders, however, can be found through a search of IRS filings. Here are the know funders of CPC:

  • Bank of America Charitable Foundation: $1,000 (2018)
  • The Beall Family Foundation: $10,000 (2017)
  • Charles Koch Foundation: $10,000 (2017)
  • David and Arnette Jorgenson: $15,000 (2016-2018)
  • Draper Foundation: $250,000 (2017)
  • Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund: $249,200 (2016-2017)
  • Greater Horizons: $10,000 (2016)
  • IT Takes a Family Foundation: $11,000 (2015-2017)
  • Laguna Beach Community Foundation: $1,000 (2017)
  • National Christian Charitable Foundation: $5,000 (2016)
  • Orange County Community Foundation: $12,000 (2017)
  • Lawrence and Sandra Post Family Foundation: $1050 (2014-2017)
  • State Policy Network: $176,050 (2014-2017)

Core Financials

2018[18]

  • Total Revenue: $1,313,416
  • Total Expenses: $1,227,312
  • Net Assets: $86,104

2017[19]

  • Total Revenue: $1,331,130
  • Total Expenses: $1,279,246
  • Net Assets: $426,999

2016[20]

  • Total Revenue: $835,491
  • Total Expenses: $683,235
  • Net Assets: $375,115

2015[21]

  • Total Revenue: $716,119
  • Total Expenses: $600,424
  • Net Assets: $222,826

2014[22]

  • Total Revenue: $346,890
  • Total Expenses: $274,905
  • Net Assets: $105,161

2013[23]

  • Total Revenue: $170,147
  • Total Expenses: $167,792
  • Net Assets: $33,176

2012[24]

  • Total Revenue: $36,797
  • Total Expenses: $27,241
  • Net Assets: $30,821

2011[25]

  • Total Revenue: $160,063
  • Total Expenses: $136,884
  • Net Assets: $-30,821

2010[26]

  • Total Revenue: $105,000
  • Total Expenses: $52,914
  • Net Assets: $52,086

Personnel

As of August 2020:[27]

Staff

  • Mark W. Bucher, Chief Executive Officer
  • Will Swaim, President[28]
  • Cecilia Iglesias, Executive Director of Education and Community Relations
  • Craig Alexander, Legal Council/General Council
  • Jackson Reese, Executive Director of the Janus Project
  • Christina Laster, Statewide Community Organizer
  • Milly Hodgins, Development Associate
  • Megan Range, Development Director
  • Jordan Bruneau, Director of Communications
  • Phuc Nguyen, Parent Union Community Liaison

Senior Fellows & Policy Analysts

  • Carl DeMaio, Senior Fellow-Fiscal Policy
  • Ed Ring, Contributing Editor and Senior Fellow. Former President

A list of "Contributors and Advisors" can be accessed here.

Former Staff

  • Paul Olivett, Development Director
  • Scott Kaufman, Research Associate
  • Kevin Wen, Research Associate
  • Kevin Dayton, Policy Analyst
  • Marc Joffe, Policy Analyst
  • Chad Morgan, Legal Counsel
  • Jack Dean
  • John Dickerson
  • William Fletcher (former Senior Vice President, Rockwell International; formerly employed by Bechtel Corporation, McKinsey and Company, Inc., and Combustion Engineering’s Nuclear Power Division; formerly an officer and engineer in the U.S. Navy’s nuclear program)
  • Marcia Fritz (President and founding board member, California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility)
  • Gloria Romero (former California State Senator; State Director, Democrats for Education Reform)
  • Larry Sand (president, California Teachers Empowerment Network)
  • Buckley Morlot, Executive Vice President
  • Koppany B. Jordan, Executive Director of Operations
  • Magda Gomez, Assistant Director of Parent Union

Board of Directors

  • Robert W. Loewen, Chairman
  • Mark W. Bucher, Chief Executive Officer
  • David L. Bahnsen, Board Director
  • John Kruger, Board Director
  • Jim Palmer, Board Director

Former Director

  • TJ Zane

Contact Details

California Policy Center
18002 Irvine Blvd.,Suite 108
Tustin, CA 92780
Email: contact@calpolicycenter.org
Web: http://californiapolicycenter.org
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CalPolicyCenter
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CalPolicyCenter/
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/california-policy-center/about/

Resources and Articles

IRS Form 990 Filings

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

References

  1. State Policy Network, Members, organizational website, accessed December 2013.
  2. Rebekah Wilce, Center for Media and Democracy, EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
  3. Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
  4. Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
  5. NOAH BIESIADA Panel Experts "Voice of the OC", July 16, 2020
  6. ROXANA KOPETMAN Open Schools Up "The Orange County Register", August 5, 2020
  7. BRANDON PHO OC School Reopening "Voice of OC", August 6, 2020
  8. Gerry Serrano Serrano "Voice of OC", February 10, 2020
  9. ROXANA KOPETMAN Recall Effort "Orange County Register", February 3, 2020
  10. ROXANA KOPETMAN Conservatives Sue "Orange County Register", March 12, 2020
  11. Board of Directors Statement on Charter Schools, NAACP, October 15, 2016
  12. Koppany Jordan CPC Teaming Up with NAACP "California Policy Center", January 16, 2019
  13. Rebecca Klein NAACP Civil War The Huffington Post, 08/06/2019
  14. David Armiak, https://www.exposedbycmd.org/2019/11/13/revenue-state-policy-network-state-affiliates-tops-120-million/ Revenue for State Policy Network and State Affiliates Tops $120 Million], ExposedbyCMD, November 13, 2019.
  15. Rebekah Wilce, Center for Media and Democracy, EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
  16. Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
  17. Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
  18. California Public Policy Center, Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, May 1, 2019
  19. California Public Policy Center, Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, April 30, 2018
  20. California Public Policy Center, [paper copy 2016 Form 990], organizational annual IRS filing, May 12, 2017
  21. California Public Policy Center, 2015 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, April 21, 2016.
  22. California Public Policy Center, 2014 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, October 29, 2015.
  23. California Public Policy Center, 2013 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, May 14, 2014.
  24. California Public Policy Center, 2012 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, May 19, 2013.
  25. California Public Policy Center, 2011 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, March 6, 2012.
  26. California Public Policy Center, 2010 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, May 11, 2011.
  27. California Policy Center, About Us organizational website, Sept, 2019 .
  28. SPN California Public Policy organizational website, accessed Oct 2018